Relationship Tips For Teens

Young people become involved in many relationships with adults and peers who may or may not support and foster their healthy participation, growth, and development. It is, thus, important to encourage them to look at each of their relationships and assess its value to them. As you work with children and adolescents, you need to help with relationship assessment.

The following set of items represents a relationship inventory that can be used independently by young people or with your help. With younger children, it will be useful to help them understand the items and their significance. With older young people, it helps to pick out a few items for discussion purposes both to look at a specific relationship and to look at the young person's relationships more generally.

Adding the scores for the fifty-nine elements together when you are finished makes a total score of 295 possible. A relationship that scores less than 200 is likely destructive and unhealthy. Also, low scores on any of the elements is a problem needing attention.

Healthy relationships useful to the young person should receive a rating of 4.0 or higher on each element. This would mean the relationship usually is available to the youngster in most important respects and supports and encourages the healthy growth and involvements of the young person. Importantly, the inventory may be used for relationships with adults or relationships with age mates.

As you think about the list, also think about the life-experiences the children with whom you are working have had. You will quickly see unhealthy relationships are a very destructive part of their lives for many. Fortunately, youngsters can be taught to check relationships for real value, desirability, and worthiness of any effort they invest to maintain them.

Score each statement.

(5 = Almost always, 4 = Usually, 3 = Sometimes, 2 = Seldom, 1 = Almost never)


1. ____ Is consistent and predictable.

2. ____ Relates positively to me.

3. ____ Is fun for me to be around.

4. ____ Is someone to whom I feel attracted.

5. ____ Gives whatever he/she is doing his/her best shot.

6. ____ Shows good self-discipline.

7. ____ Has values similar to mine.

8. ____ Has life goals similar to mine.

9. ____ Has personal priorities similar to mine.

10. ____ Can decide what is and is not really important.

11. ____ Is firm and assertive with people.

12. ____ Is someone by whom I would want others to judge me. - 'We are known by the company we keep.'

13. ____ Has good personal habits.

14. ____ Holds about the same expectations for me as I hold for him/her.

15. ____ Holds about the same expectations for our relationship as I do.

16. ____ Understands and accepts my expectations for our relationship.

17. ____ Feels good about being in the relationship with me.

18. ____ Is someone with whom I feel good about being in the relationship.

19. ____ Finds the relationship with me satisfying.

20. ____ Sees our relationship as a shared responsibility.

21. ____ Sees adjusting to me as being as important as my adjusting to him/her.

22. ____ Does not make demands on me.

23. ____ Does not set one-sided conditions on our relationship.

24. ____ Sees our relationship as a give-and-take kind of thing.

25. ____ Is someone on whom I can depend.

26. ____ Keeps his/her commitments to me.

27. ____ Is there for me when I need support, encouragement, or someone to share with.

28. ____ Cares about me.

29. ____ Wants to know about my activities, thoughts, and interests.

30. ____ Gets happy and excited with me.

31. ____ Feels badly when things are not working out or are going badly for me.

32. ____ Does not become competitive with me unless we agree it is just for fun.

33. ____ Has faith in me.

34. ____ Talks to me and shares things with me.

35. ____ Likes for me to be involved with his/her activities and in his/her other relationships.

36. ____ Supports who I am, my interests, and my priorities.

37. ____ Understands my needs, my interests, and what I want for me.

38. ____ Tries to be helpful to me.

39. ____ Thinks I am fine the way I am and feels no need to change me.

40. ____ Is a positive influence on me.

41. ____ Supports and encourages those relationships I want to have with other people.

42. ____ Is considerate of my feelings, needs, and wishes.

43. ____ Listens to me.

44. ____ Is patient with me.

45. ____ Is gentle with me.

46. ____ Is very specific when being critical of me or saying something negative to me.

47. ____ Accepts and deals with the ups-and-downs in our relationship.

48. ____ Can handle my behavior, attitudes, and interests changing sometimes and not always being the same.

49. ____ Can handle my being upset or in a bad mood sometimes.

50. ____ Snaps back from disappointments or when things do not go his/her way.

51. ____ Is willing to work on those problems that come up in our relationship from time-to-time.

52. ____ Hangs in there when there is conflict or tension in our relationship.

53. ____ Does not get involved in blaming me or accusing me of things I did not do.

54. ____ Is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.

55. ____ Will take the first step to make things better or to improve things within our relationship.

56. ____ Keeps hassles and arguments short, to the point, and under control.

57. ____ Trusts me.

58. ____ Believes what I tell him/her.

59. ____ Does not use me or take advantage of me.

You may find it better only to use the first twelve items on the list instead of the complete list. Also, it may be useful to pick-and-choose to be sure the youngster is considering the points you believe are important.

Here is a good way to use the list or part of the list. Suppose the child is in a relationship you think is a problem. Instead of trying to lecture and convince, do this. Ask the youngster to check the relationship against the list. Say, 'Take ten minutes to check it out. Rate the relationship using this list. See how it holds up. I am just encouraging you to stop and think about it, just a little.'

By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. March 24, 2017